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Commentators recognize recent increase in doctors filing for bankruptcy

Health care has been a hot-button topic in the news for many reasons in recent months. Similarly, the economy has topped the headlines for several years. The two topics converge in an area that many of our Ohio readers may be surprised to learn.

The weak economy has caused many people across the country to cut back on just about everything, including medical care. The effect of reduced visits to the doctor's office has forced some doctor's across the country to seek relief under the Bankruptcy Code, according to CNN.

It is not just the loss of office visits hitting the medical profession, but shrinking payments to doctors from the insurance companies as costs of running a practice in the health industry continue to rise. It may not be something that people would think about, but the economy has been tough on people from all walks of life-including doctors.

Many of the doctors reportedly are filing under chapter 11 bankruptcy, which in many ways is similar to the chapter 13 program. A chapter 13 bankruptcy allows an individual with a regular income to adjust debts through a three to five year plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcies generally allow a consumer to retain property that may exceed the bankruptcy exemptions available for Ohio residents, depending on the individual circumstances.

Chapter 11 is a process that allows a debtor to reorganize debt and was originally developed for corporations. But, an individual can file under chapter 11 as well. In that respect, chapter 11 operates very much like a chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy, but under chapter 11, there is no limit to the amount of money that the debtor owes.

Several bankruptcy lawyers recently told CNN that bankruptcies among doctors have spiked in recent years across the country. But, the story merely shows that stereotypes over professions in pop culture may not have a valid basis, and people in any industry or profession can be affected by large debt loads.

Source: CNN, "Doctors driven to bankruptcy," Parija Kavilanz, April 8, 2013

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